Technically, I suppose it was theft

Today, a walk to assuage my guilt! Last week I found 3 books in the National Trust’s second-hand bookshop at Polesden Lacey and didn’t pay for them. The card reader wasn’t working and they had no cash to give change. I was told I could pay for them if I exited the grounds and paid at the gift shop. But I wasn’t intending to exit the grounds at the gift shop, so I put the books in my rucksack and continued my walk before finally leaving. My intention was either to make an online donation or to pay on my next visit. Hence today’s walk to the same bookshop, in order to pay my dues. I explained to the volunteer running the shop why I had come, although I put a gloss on it saying that I had forgotten to pay!

It was a grey day for a walk and all the pictures came out drab, even with the help of Photoshop. So just one image, a black & white rendition taken at the edge of some dark woods.

In addition to paying my dues at the bookshop I also found a couple of thin novels. Don’t they have great covers!

Dapdune Wharf

A train to Guildford and a 15 minute walk took me to Dapdune Wharf, a modest National Trust site on the River Wey. My purpose was to investigate the second-hand bookshop, which I can now recommend and which proved successful. I went inside the large barge wearing one of the hard-hats provided – absolutely essential for all six-footers! There’s also a very decent cafe. It was a lovely few hours spent in the bookshop, pottering around and having a cafe sandwich lunch. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/river-wey-and-godalming-navigations-and-dapdune-wharf

The first two images were taken on the walk from the station to the Wharf and show the River Wey as it passes through the centre of Guildford.

Berlin bookstores

I’ve just started reading this second-hand, 1973 paperback  – a Christmas present from my son’s German girlfriend. Admire the book’s yellow pages – it’s 48 years-old! The enclosed bookmark says the book came from one of the many Berlin bookshops selling English books.

Astonishingly, Berlin bookshops are considered ‘essential services’ during lockdown and allowed to stay open – we in the UK can only dream.

Here’s a rather nice article detailing ‘The best English bookstores in Berlin‘.

The bookshops are open!

The shackles have been relaxed a little and the shops have reopened, including Waterstones the bookshop – yay!

I’ve just finished reading my 100th book of the year so what better way to reward myself than a little restocking. Three very different non-fiction books – a true crime, an autobiography and some history/politics.

I’m currently reading Dictators, by Frank Dikötter. It’s an examination of eight twentieth-century dictators. Fascinating stuff with astonishing parallels with the personality of the current American president. It’s enthused me to make an effort to read more history.

My local high street was heaving, due no doubt to the relaxing of the Covid restrictions as well as being not-long-to Christmas. And with Debenhams about to shut, the scavengers were out looking for a bargain.


Getting books during covid

In these difficult times I’ve been getting my reading material from different sources:

  • Re-reading books from my shelves
  • ebooks downloaded from my local library
  • Blackwell’s online bookshop

Today I ventured into our local Waterstones and came away with three books. I can’t say that wearing a mask for the length of time it takes me to browse is a pleasant experience, but it was fine. And it’s good to be back in a bookshop again!

As an aside I wasn’t sure whether I should use ‘ebook’ or ‘e-book’ in the text, but after looking up “E-book, ebook, eBook” on Grammarist, I decided to go with ‘ebook’.


Stony Stratford

It’s a nightmare going by car from North Surrey to Milton Keynes. Getting there it was the South/North Circular – a mere 14 miles in the first hour, followed by the M1 motorway. The return journey was M1 and M25 which was going well until it wasn’t. Five hours total driving is no fun on our road system.

Getting rid of books

Not being able to browse bookshops, I’m getting my reading material by downloading e-books from the library and by re-reading books from my shelves. Once read I would normally hang on to a book only if it’s received my ‘highly recommended’ stamp of approval or, exceptionally, a ‘recommended’ one. But with the passage of time the shelves are bursting and I’ve decided that any book I re-read I will dispose of. There may be exceptions.

It’s too much hassle to try to resell books online and too little money to be gained so I take books to my local Oxfam Books. A book given to a charity can often be sold several times over since there’s a strong likelihood that books bought from a charity shop will be donated back to the same shop. This is clearly good for the charity, though less good for the author of the book. I don’t know whether that should bother me.

A ten-book-binge

On my second visit to the Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, South London, and for a mere £21, I now have an additional 10 novels queued up for reading. The shop has a great variety of pre-loved novels, something I just don’t see in my local library, my local Waterstones, or my nearest Oxfam Bookshop. A bookshop to be revisited.

Not Amazon

I refuse to buy books from Amazon, so I’ve added menu links to three alternatives. In particular, Blackwell’s appear to be price comparable with the big A.

You may be lucky to have a local bookshop.

Not taking enough books on holiday

What was I thinking by taking just the one book on holiday! I should have realised that John Grisham’s The Racketeer was never going to last five days and two flights. And what a disappointing holiday read it was. A crazy plot, no pace, and not much in the way of characterisation to excite.

So with two days and a flight remaining, with one of those days forecast to be wall to wall thunderstorms(!), I desperately needed to find a bookshop that sold English language novels. Thanks to Google I located Bertrand, ‘The Oldest Bookshop In The World’, here in Lisbon, where it was claimed they have a small English Language section. Yes it was small and I really struggled to find anything, reluctantly settling on an early Jo Nesbo, Cockroaches. I may have already read it, though it’s not mentioned in the list of books I’ve read. But since I can barely remember the stories of books I have read, hopefully there’s something to enjoy for the next couple of days.

View of Sintra from Quinta da Regaleira